Former heavyweight champ Magnus made an interesting tweet the other day.
Disappointed to hear about Moyes. Was going to be a tough spot for anybody. It's easy to be a critic, I wish people would remember that.— Nick 'Magnus' Aldis (@MagnusOfficial) April 22, 2014
He was talking about David Moyes, ex-manager of Manchester United.
But I was more interested in this: "It's easy to be a critic".
That idea is common in society. So much so that you can even find it movies for children.
And I want to discuss it today.
I've written about criticism before. In fact, my first opinion post was me disagreeing with Matt Hardy on who gets to criticise in the first place.
And as both a writer and a reviewer, I'm in the right position to ask questions about the relationship there.
So. Are Magnus and the writer of Ratatouille's Anton Ego right, and is the work of a critic easy?
Is any old piece of creation more meaningful than a piece of criticism?
And what is criticism even for?
To answer the first question, yes... and no.
It can be child's play to criticise. Anybody can look at TNA, find something they dislike and say, "That's rubbish. TNA sucks."
That is easy.
But being a critic isn't.
Writing reviews is hard.
You have to find the right words and the right order for them.
You have to be succinct, brief and simple, but entertaining.
You have to grip your reader.
In short, writing a good review is itself an act of creation.
Creative non-fiction, perhaps. But still creation.
Even the simplest review takes effort and hard work that you will probably never see.
Which brings me to my next point: there is nothing inherently sacred about creation.
Ego's argument just doesn't hold up.
"The average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so"? No.
I'm a creator. I'm a writer. And not everything I write is good, deep or meaningful.
And that is true of every creator in the world.
And finally, criticism is meaningful because of its purpose in the world.
Critics are not evil. We're not Anton-ego like bogeymen. And we don't exist solely to ruin a creator's day.
Critics exist to point out what works, what doesn't, and how we can get better.
I study Creative and Professional Writing. When I show my tutors my work, I want them to criticise it so I can become a better writer.
Without criticism, art and culture stagnate. Nobody improves. Nobody gets better.
And that's why being a critic is neither easy nor meaningless.
We need critics.
Because without critics, we creators don't know what we're doing wrong. We don't know how to change it. And we don't know how to get better.
And who wants to live in a world like that?
So I'm sorry, Magnus, but I disagree with you.
Sure, criticising is easy.
But being a good critic? That's a trickier business by far.
See you Sunday.